How do I know if I have an eating disorder?


Bulimia nervosa (BN) affects how you feel about your body and how you eat. People with BN usually diet and try to control what they eat. But, there are also times when they eat a very large amount of food in a short time. This is called bingeing. People with BN say they feel out of control when they binge. Afterwards, they often feel guilty and disgusted by how much food they have eaten. They force themselves to make up for eating so much by over-exercising or purging (vomiting or taking laxatives or diuretics). However, purging is a dangerous way of trying to manage weight, and purging is generally not an effective way to control weight. They purge or over-exercise because they are scared they will gain weight. People with BN binge and purge regularly, at least once per week.

Common complications of bulimia nervosa include:

  • mood swings, depression, anxiety
  • irritable
  • dizzy, headaches
  • rashes and pimples
  • swollen cheeks
  • scars or calluses on the knuckles (Russell’s sign )
  • heartburn (acid reflux)
  • low blood pressure
  • stomach or intestinal problems
  • constipation
  • loss of bone density
  • swollen hands or feet
  • dry, yellow skin
  • infertile, unable to get pregnant
  • kidney failure
  • abnormal heartbeat or heart attack
  • slowed heart rate
  • breathless
  • enlarged glands in the mouth and neck
  • dehydrated
  • tooth pain or tooth decay
  • red eyes
  • hair loss or thinning
  • weight changes
  • insomnia
  • low blood potassium

Bulimia nervosa can be harder to notice than anorexia nervosa. People with BN do not always lose weight. They may hide the problem and binge and purge in secret. BN can cause very serious health problems. These problems may be hard to reverse if left untreated for too long.



Resource List

General Information: What is an eating disorder? Treatment Options: How do you treat an eating disorder?

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